Persian Painting: The Sleep of Rustam

La Miniature En Orient by Ernst Kuhnel 1925

The Sleep of Rustam, La Miniature En Orient by Ernst Kuhnel 1925
La Miniature En Orient by Ernst Kuhnel 1925
Translator's Note: While Kuhnel did not attribute this painting to an artist it is now widely viewed as the work of Sultan Muhammad. Stuart Cary Welch suggested that this miniature was originally intended for the book we know as the Shah-Nama of Shah Tahmasp.1.

Sheila Canby takes that one step further by suggesting that Tahmasp steeped in the artistic tradition of Herat rejected this piece on stylistic grounds. 2. One point that both Welch and Canby is the date, circa 1515 - 1522.

This represents the pinnacle of the Tabriz Miniature tradition prior to the arrival of Tahmasp and Bihzad from Herat. Compared to Bihzad Sultan Mohammed could be rather clumsy and crude but the colors and the vitality make this a treasure but one that did not fit the Herat esthetic.
Detail - The sleep of Rustam
Here we see Rustan one of the great heroes of epic poetry. The earliest images of Rustan are Sacian from Central Asia. This hero was grafted onto Persian legends in the Shahnama (Book of Kings) by a poet named Firdausi. 3.

This is a beautifully executed but rather typical portrayal of Rustam. He is normally show in tiger stripes with a big cat head headdress. This miniature is especially interesting because of the jajim that Rustam is sleeping on.


The coloration of the rocks is a hallmark of the Sultan Mohammed style.
The Sleep of Rustam - enlarged
In this enlargement of the above detail shows us the human like face hidden in the rocks.